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Human Rights Advocates React to the President’s Proposed Budget


Human rights advocates are expressing outrage at President Donald Trump’s proposed FY 2018 budget, which they say would have damaging impact on people all over the world.

Trump unveiled his proposed $4 trillion federal budget May 24. The proposal would cut to the International Affairs budget by 32 percent, and reduce funding for Child Care and Development Block Grants, and Head Start programs according to multiple statements by Save the Children Action Network. Amnesty International USA also released a statement calling the President’s proposal a “rejection of human rights.”

“President Trump’s budget is a rejection of American leadership on human rights and will hurt people inside U.S. and all over the world,” Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Margaret Huang said in a statement.

“Instead of strengthening human rights, Trump wants to invest in a border wall, a Muslim ban and the detention of more desperate people seeking asylum here,” Huang said. “While the U.S. operates the largest immigration detention system in the world, costing Americans $2 billion annually, Trump is asking for even more money for his cruel enforcement policies.

Mark Shriver, President of the Save the Children Action Network, said in a statement that it is up to Congress to ensure Trump’s budget isn’t passed.

“Thanks in part to the voices of our activists, Head Start has been spared drastic cuts like the ones proposed to so many other programs, but it is now vital that Congress protect funding for all early learning programs,” Shriver said.

“Americans agree that investing in kids today helps create a better tomorrow and that’s why Congress must robustly fund Head Start, Child Care and Development Block Grants and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.”  The decreases in funding for Head Start and Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) mean that these programs will continue to serve less than 41 percent and 15 percent of eligible children, respectively,” Save the Children said.

“It could also mean the loss of 217,000 child care slots for low-income children currently served by CCDBG. A significant increase in funding is needed to continue to serve the current number of children and meet the new safety regulations passed in a bipartisan manner by Congress in 2014, Save the Children said. “These funding levels mean that scores of children will continue to miss out on these life-changing programs.”

“Now, more than 1.6 million children could be faced with no safe destination after the school bell rings,” Shriver said. “At a time when one in five children in this country is unsupervised after the school day ends, we should be investing much more in after school programs, not eliminating funding.”  Shriver said that the country’s fiscal problems should not be “balanced on the backs of kids.

Oxfam America said in a statement that the proposed budget would cut gender equality and women’s empowerment programs by 61 percent, while programs focused on governance and civil society, education, agriculture, water and sanitation, economic development, and humanitarian assistance programs all also have significant gender aspects, and are all being cut between 28 and 60 percent.  “Cutting these programs will have devastating effects on women and their families,” Oxfam said. “In recent years, US foreign assistance has supported access to primary education for over 3 million girls (in 2015 alone), has trained female election monitors, judges, and peacekeepers; has ensured millions of women with maternal care, and provided support to women and their families in times of conflict and disaster.

“Efforts like these not only provide critical support in times of need, but also empower women to have more voice and power in in their homes and communities,” Oxfam said. “Cutting these programs could have detrimental effects on women’s ability to speak out and address problems in their countries and access critical life-saving services.” While Ivanka Trump has sponsored a World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs, it wouldn’t come close to filling in the gap left by Trump’s budget cuts, Oxfam said. “We need to continue to champion the message that women’s rights are human rights, and double-down on efforts to empower and support women, not scrap them,”. “Congress must reject the Trump administration’s budget. Doing so is what’s best for women, and what’s best for the world.”

President Trump defended his budget proposal and said in a statement that through a streamlined government “we will drive an economic boom that raises incomes and expands job opportunities for all Americans.  “As this Budget returns us to economic prosperity, it will also allow us to fund additional priorities, including infrastructure, student loan reform, and initiatives to help working families such as paid parental leave,” Trump said. “We will champion the hardworking taxpayers who have been ignored for too long. Once we end our economic stagnation and return to robust growth, so many of our aspirations will be within reach.”

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